02/07/2018
 

Asia Pacific Bulletin: JULY

Journalists hold memorial for Shujaat Bhukari at the IFJ meeting in Nepal. Credit: IFJ

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on August 1, 2018 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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Asia Pacific, News, News, ASIA PACIFIC, Campaigns, Reports, Events, Meeting, Workshop, Conference

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on August 1, 2018 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj(at)ifj-asia(dot)org

Please distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media.

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In this bulletin:

1.       Deadly month in Asia Pacific: regions concerning figures

2.       IFJ, SAMSN & SEAJU Pledge to Build Power in Transitioning Digital Economy

3.       Pakistan’s media under attack

4.       Election Reporting Guidelines released in Cambodia

5.       Tiananmen Anniversary tightly controlled

6.       Wife of missing Sri Lankan journalist threatened

7.       IFJ Condemns Indian Government’s Manoeuvres to Control Media

8.       Nepal TV show shut down over critical questions

9.       Bangladesh website blocked over content

10.   Vanuatu: Veteran journalist passes away

11.   Press Freedom Is Under Attack Across Southeast Asia. Meet the Journalists Fighting Back: TIME

12.   Capital Gazette newspaper editors vow to publish Friday issue despite attack: The Guardian

 

1.       Deadly month in Asia Pacific: regions concerning figures

Since January 1, 21 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Asia Pacific region. In 2017, the IFJ recorded the killing of 24 journalists and media workers, making the figure for the first six months of 2016 very concerning.

On June 7, Dennis Denora became the second journalist killed in the Philippines in 2018, when he was shot dead in his vehicle. Denora is the 11th journalist killed in less than two years since President Duterte took office, and the 184th journalist murdered in the Philippines since 1986.

On June 11, Shahjahan Bachchu was shot dead in Bangladesh. Writer, blogger and publisher Bachchu was known for his free-thinking views on religious matters. He was killed when a bomb exploded outside a pharmacy he was in; he was dragged out of the pharmacy and shot in the chest.

On June 14, Shujaat Bhukari the editor of Rising Kashmir was killed when he Bukhari was attacked in his car outside his office shot in his head and abdomen. The attackers fled the scene firing multiple indiscreetly at him, his guard and the driver. He was declared on arrival at the local hospital. His security guard was also killed in the attack while the driver is receiving treatment. Shujaat had security from an earlier attack in 2010.

On June 10, Muhammad Yusuf died in police custody in Indonesia. Yusuf, who worked for the online news portal, kemajuanrakyat.co.id, was detained in April after police arrested him on defamation charges for allegedly violating the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (UU ITE). According to reports, Yusuf complained to guards of difficult breathing, chest pains and that he had vomited. He was taken to the Kotabaru Regional Public Hospital, but passed away within 30 minutes of his arrival. The IFJ is still investigating the case, and whether his death is related to his custody.

Read more here, here and here.

2.       IFJ, SAMSN & SEAJU Pledge to Build Power in Transitioning Digital Economy

Journalists, union leaders and media rights organizations under the umbrella of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), the South East Asian Journalists Unions (SEAJU) and the International Federation of the Journalists (IFJ) convened in Kathmandu from June 17 to 19, 2018 under the theme ‘Trade Unions in Transition: Building Power of Journalists and Media Workers in the Digital Economy”. The meeting was supported by the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Union to Union.

Taking note of emerging new digital media models that have both immense possibilities and unforeseen challenges to democracy and justice, the meeting agreed on the need for media and journalists to develop digital skills and adapt to the changing digital economy. Given the rampant spread of misinformation and fake news, the need for verification and fact-checking was underlined, in order to re-establish the credibility of the media. The meeting called on governments to create enabling conditions for the development of independent digital media. The meeting decided to form a Regional Digital Working Group to advise SAMSN, SEAJU and IFJ, as well as affiliated and partner unions, on contemporary and emerging issues of the digital economy.

Read more here.

3.       Pakistan’s media under attack

On June 5, senior investigative journalist Asad Kharal, associated with BOL TV Network, was attacked near the Allama Iqbal International Airport. Kharal was on his way to home when his vehicle was intercepted; he was dragged out and assaulted. A few hours earlier, prominent British-Pakistani journalist and activist Gul Bukhari, known for criticizing Pakistani army, was briefly abducted by unidentified men. Bukhari was on her way to the Waqt TV studio for a show when the TV vehicle was intercepted and she was abducted on Sherpao Bridge in Lahore’s Cantonment area at around 11 pm on June 5. She returned home safely after three hours.

Read more here.

4.        Election Reporting Guidelines released in Cambodia

Less than two months out from Cambodia’s general elections due on July 29, the National Election Commission (NEC) has released a code of conduct for reporters covering the ballot. The code of conduct for election observers was released in Phnom Penh on May 21 by the NEC. The code of conduct which is vague forbids journalists from expressing ‘personal opinion or prejudice’, or conducting unauthorized interviews at polling booths. They are also barred from broadcasting news that leads to ‘confusion or loss of confidence’ in the election.

Those found to violate the new guidelines could be fined under the election law, with Article 142 of the election law imposes fines of 5 million to 30 million ($1,250 - $7,400) for such infractions.

Read more here.

5.         Tiananmen Anniversary tightly controlled

June 4, marked the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as predicted Mainland authorities blocked any discussion or reporting on the anniversary online and in the media. Not a single media outlet reported on the anniversary.

According to several media reports, on June 2, days before the anniversary, searches on Yahoo’s Hong Kong and Taiwan sites did not produce any matches for information or pictures relating to June 4.

One Mainland media outlet told the IFJ that directives had been issued, including all media reports in Guangdong Province could not mention Hong Kong, and even entertainment reports could not interview Hong Kong artists.

Read more here.

6.       Wife of missing Sri Lankan journalist threatened

 Sandya Eknaligoda, wife of missing Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, has received continuous death threats and abuses through social media after the sentencing of a monk to six months rigorous imprisonment for criminally intimidating her.

After the sentencing, Sandya has been facing harassment and intimidation, largely via social media networks. Sandya says Facebook messages from unknown users have been pouring in since the judgment was given in the criminal intimidation case this month. She said: “Without knowing the real situation or the facts of the case, people are mentally tormenting me and my children.”

Read more here.

7.       IFJ Condemns Indian Government’s Manoeuvres to Control Media

 The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Executive Committee meeting in Taiwan on May 12-13 expresses its deep concern over the Indian government’s manoeuvres to control the media and impinge on the right to freedom of expression and access to information, critical to its democracy.

Read more here

8.       Nepal TV show shut down over critical questions

State-owned Nepal Television shut down a long-running talk show on June 12, allegedly on the direction of Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota after the host asked him critical questions regarding his property declaration.

In the episode broadcast on June 9, host Raju Thapa asked Minister Baskota questions regarding his property declaration, especially about the dowry that he declared he had received. On June 12, the news chief of Nepal Television informed host Thapa that his 12-year-old program would not broadcast anymore.

Read more here.

9.       Bangladesh website blocked over content

The website of the popular daily The Daily Star, was blocked for more than 18 hours on June 1 following an order from the telecommunications authority in Bangladesh. The Daily Star website was blocked beginning June 1 night following instructions from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The BTRC sent a letter to the International Internet Gateways (IIGs), stating, “As decided by the commission, you were directed to block the following URL. But if it is not possible to block the specific URL then you are directed to block the domain at your IIGs.”

Read more here

10.   Vanuatu: Veteran journalist passes away

On Saturday, June 9, veteran journalist and media pioneer, Jonas Cullwick, passed away in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Jonas Cullwick was working as a senior journalist at the Daily Post in Vanuatu until his death, and was the executive treasurer of MAV. He had a long and well-respected career in the media in Vanuatu, working as a journalist with Radio Vila and then serving as the General Manager of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation in the 1990s.

Read more here.

11.   Press Freedom Is Under Attack Across Southeast Asia. Meet the Journalists Fighting Back: TIME

Southeast Asia may never have been a paragon of the free press, but the democratic strides it made in the late ’80s and ’90s are rapidly unraveling. Targeted financial inquiries have forced newspapers of record to close or compromise their independence. Journalists have been discredited by sophisticated social media campaigns. Defamation, sedition and other vaguely worded laws have been used to put reporters behind bars, often alongside new legislation created to control cyberspace.

Read more here.

12.    Capital Gazette newspaper editors vow to publish Friday issue despite attack: The Guardian

Hours after a gunman targeted the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, killing at least five people, its editors vowed to publish the Friday issue of the newspaper while its reporters were back out covering the aftermath of the tragedy inflicted on their own colleagues.

As evidence grew that the gun rampage had been committed by an individual who specifically targeted the newspaper and its editing team, the response of the surviving journalists on the title was one of resolute defiance.

Read more here

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